Bill Kostroun / AP Enlarge
NEW ORLEANS - Jeremy Shockey was traded to the Saints for two draft picks yesterday, giving New Orleans a disgruntled star tight end who watched from afar while injured as the New York Giants surged to the Super Bowl title.
The Giants will get second and fifth-round picks in the 2009 draft. The deal must be approved by the league and is contingent on Shockey passing a physical.
The deal reunites Shockey with Saints coach Sean Payton, who was the Giants' offensive coordinator in 2002, when Shockey was rookie of the year.
"I have had a relationship with coach Payton and I appreciate what he has done as a head coach," Shockey said in a statement released by the Saints. "The Saints have a lot of weapons, starting with Drew Brees, and I look forward to joining my teammates at training camp. This will be a fun year."
The Saints report to training camp in Jackson, Miss., tomorrow with several other tight ends on the roster, including last year's starter, Eric Johnson, and Billy Miller and Mark Campbell.
Shockey, a four-time Pro Bowl selection who spent six seasons with the Giants, broke his leg against the Washington Redskins on Dec. 16.
He is known for his offensive ability more than his blocking, and was unhappy even before the injury - he was asked to block in addition to catch. Once hurt, he didn't like the fact that much was made of the Giants winning with rookie Kevin Boss in his place.
"Jeremy brought great energy to the game every time he stepped on the field," said Giants team president John Mara, son of the late Wellington Mara, a longtime owner of the team. "He had a close relationship with my father from the time we drafted him, and I had a couple of long conversations with Jeremy this spring and summer. From those conversations, it was apparent to me that a fresh start was the best thing for us and for Jeremy."
The Giants, a proven winner without Shockey in the lineup, cut ties with a player who provided plenty of excitement on the field and plenty of distractions off it - once throwing a cup of ice in the stands during a playoff game in San Francisco, criticizing Giants fans for leaving a game early, blaming Giants coach Tom Coughlin's staff for a loss in 2006 and skipping voluntary team workouts in favor an offseason program run by his agent.
The Giants also unload the remainder of a five-year, $31.2 million contract extension that Shockey signed in 2005.
Shockey had 371 catches for 4,228 yards and 27 touchdowns with the Giants. He was drafted out of Miami with the 14th overall pick in the 2002 draft.
Coughlin called the departing tight end "an outstanding football player who plays the game full speed and plays the game the way it was meant to be played."
"I wish him the best," the coach added.
The Giants still have five tight ends, including Boss, who started the last six games of last season. The others are rookie Eric Butler, Jerome Collins, Darcy Johnson and Michael Matthews.
"We have five young kids who are all vying for the position," Coughlin said.
"The tight end position will be a very competitive position in training camp."
The Saints have been seeking a tight end who is a down-field threat. Eric Johnson, who started 12 games for the Saints last season, caught 48 passes for 378 yards and two touchdowns.
The Saints' offense has been among the best in the NFL during Payton's first two seasons as coach, with Brees eclipsing 4,000 yards passing in each of them.